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Women of Rubies was  created by Esther Ijewere to celebrate exceptional women. Esther Ijewere is an enterprising social activist, women’s advocate, columnist, author and the Founder of Rubies Ink Initiative for Women and Children — a non-profit outfit devoted to advocacy, development and social enterprise solutions amongst others.

An Olabisi Onabanjo University trained Sociologist, Esther Ijewere is the brain behind W.A.R. — Walk Against Rape, an advocacy initiative created to lend a voice for the victims of rape and demand justice, an initiative endorsed by the Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

Read Also: How To Use Mindfulness Meditation To Reduce Stress And Anxiety

The NGO organises workshops in secondary schools tagged College Acquaintance Rape Education (C.A.R.E) in partnership with the Lagos state Ministry of Justice and the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT). Esther, the initiator of Project Capable; a Lagos State Ministry of Education approved programme, Esther is the youngest recipient of The Idea Builders Women Mentoring Women Award, winning Mentee of the year 2010 and “Women Enterprise Award” from Vital Voices International & Exxon Mobil.

Esther Ijewere- Women of Rubies
Esther Ijewere

She also won the award for “Best Use of Advocacy” from her Alma Mata; Olabisi Onabanjo University in 2012, for her contribution in fighting and creating awareness on Rape.

In 2016 Esther bagged four awards for her platform Women of Rubies, notably among these award is “Young Person of the Year” and “Wise Women in Media” awards.

Read Also: Esther Ijewere Listed As An African Woman In Development

She is a Fellow with Vital Voices Global Leadership USA; an organization founded by Hillary Clinton and aimed at empowering young women change makers all over the world.

She unveiled her first book on rape and violence against women, titled “Breaking the Silence”. She is also a columnist with the Guardian Newspaper, her page “ Women of Rubies” a platform used to celebrate exceptional women with inspiring stories, the page is a sequel to her award winning blog www.womenofrubies.com, which is fast becoming the one stop blog for the everyday woman. Esther recently started a platform for men called “Men who Inspire”, to further balance her advocacy work as an advocate, and also kicked off the #GettalkingwithEsther show to spread positivity on social media.

In this interview, she bares all with Vanguard Newspaper

Kindly tell us the story of Women of Rubies, your career path and how it all started?

Women of Rubies was born out of my passion for humanity. I started out as a social activist, lending my voice to victims of rape, and other forms of gender-based violence. This  evolved into the media, which is the Women of Rubies platform where I use my column and blog as a vehicle of social change  to put the spotlight on other women in different sectors who are contributing their quota to nation building and adding value to the society through their work.

Looking back, would you say Women of Rubies and your other initiatives have achieved what it set out to accomplish?

Absolutely! We have accomplished even more than we envisaged ten years ago. Despite the losses we suffered, we have stayed solid and consistent through the years.

Every project we have embarked on has impacted lives and added value. We have served those at the grassroots and the high earned professionals. The ripple effect of the work we do is unquantifiable, and that’s the reason why even after 10 years, with all the bumps and losses we’ve encountered, we are still very relevant in the sectors we represent, because God is fully involved in everything we do.

Rubies Ink Initiative  championed the first of its kind Walk against Rape campaign in Nigeria, The walk did not only encourage victims of rape to speak up, It also became an annual event most of concerned Nigerians and celebrities look forward to. We used different toolkit (workshops, media, information handbook, town hall meetings in different communities) to educate and sensitize the society.

Watch: 5 Ways To Stop Being A People Pleaser

We also got justice for several victims through our alliance with the Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs and the domestic and sexual violence response team (DSVRT). The walk is endorsed by the Federal and State Government respectively. We have over fifty celebrities and influencers who are our ambassadors.

They use their platforms to educate the society on the scourge of rape, and aim for victims to get justice. The walk will be moving to other parts of Nigeria this year by God’s grace.

With Women of Rubies, we have given visibility and brought stories of different amazing women to the front burner, featured and celebrated over 1000 (one thousand women) through our Guardian Newspaper column, blog and social media pages.

Read Also: How To Understand The Impact Of Trauma

We have raised over N5M funds for several women in distress, paid hospital bills, supported widows, paid rent for homeless victims of domestic violence and also re-integrate them back into the society.  During the thick of COVID-19 pandemic, we were one of the organizations at the forefront raising funds for families who were affected, and we continue to support many.

Let’s talk about “Get Talking with Esther”. Can you shed more light on this project?

I am very expressive, I love to write and read from people, I love to celebrate people and give them hope, I love when I can feel people’s thoughts through words. “Get talking with Esther” is just about that.  It’s a #Tweetchat session that gives you the ambience of a show on Twitter.

Basically, using my platform, years of experience, and skill set for social good to give everyone a voice. We fix broken tables, bring “Under the table” conversations to the front burner for positivity. We bring people who share life experiences, healing, and learning. My mission is to use the show to spread positivity on social media, especially Twitter. It will be 2 years by August 13th, 2022.

Women of Rubies

Intimate us about your proudest moments in the last ten years?

There are many proud moments, and it will be hard to pick just one. But I’d say each time I touch someone’s life, give hope to a helpless person, use my platform to celebrate a person who needs visibility and light up someone’s dark path, it becomes a proud moment.

The joy of giving back and paying it forward is innate. It’s my happy place. Above all, being a mother, and experiencing childbirth is my proudest moment. The joy of holding your baby in your hands. It’s unexplainable. I pray every woman seeking the fruit of the womb will experience this.

Kindly mention some of the lessons life has taught you?

Patience; life has taught me to be patient with myself and others. Setting boundaries is also one of the lessons I have learnt over the years. For a longtime, I didn’t have boundaries, and I ended up burning out and feeling used. The moment I started setting my boundaries, things changed. I learned how to say no respectfully without feeling guilty. Setting boundaries has helped me greatly in navigating where and who I give my energy.

Life also taught me the beauty of releasing power and letting go easily. While I am still a work in progress, these lessons have helped me stay grounded and focused.

You have a passion for women and single mothers. How was this ignited?

My passion for women is innate, I mean being a woman, I should love and support other women naturally. However, single motherhood is very personal. I am a single mum, I know and identify the pain and struggles of single mothers. It’s twice the sacrifice, and it takes a lot to raise kids alone. Spreading light to other lone parents is from a place of experience, love and understanding. I wish society would judge us less, and support us more.

Was there any time you had felt like giving in, wrapping your platforms and moving on?

Yes, several times. It’s hard to run an organization in Nigeria, especially when you don’t have core funding and lack committed human power. I almost gave up everything when my marriage crashed. My saving grace was remembering that my purpose is bigger than me, and my light is brighter than being a wife. Each time I have those wrapping up moments, I reflect on why I started and the beautiful moments.I will keep pushing against all odds. It’s an assignment and I have to do it well. Giving up is not an option.

Read Also: 9 Powerful Ways To Be More Confident

Who really is Esther Ijewere?

Esther is smart, strong, opinionated, and kind hearted. She is determined, dogged and much focused. She is passionate about issues that affect women and children. She is the Introvert, who loves her own space, the multi-tasking single mum who works hard so her kids can learn all she was not taught. The deep soul, and very spiritual woman who prays a lot. The writer who writes with passion and deep understanding for humanity. The very private woman who prefers to share her work than her personal life. The playful, happy-go-lucky girl who is living intentionally. Esther, like every human is not perfect. She is a work in progress

What principles have worked for you over the years?

Putting God first, staying focused, honesty, diligence and speaking my truth against all odds. These principles have and continue to help me stay grounded.

How did you build such a strong following on social media?

That’s the power of consistency. I have also managed to keep a drama-free life on social media, separated my personal life from my work, and consciously use my platforms to support folks and spread love and light. I have also focused on being relevant and not just popular. I worked hard over the years to make my name a solution to a problem I solve. People gravitate towards value naturally. However, I do not take glory for any of it. I am just a vessel doing God’s bidding on earth. It is my hope that my light continues to attract and touch souls all over the world, even beyond social media.

Esther Ijewere

Who are your role models?

My Mom for being a strong support system and instilling the right values in me. I always tell people that my life, especially my philanthropic side, is a reflection of good upbringing. However, I am a mummy’s girl with a mind of my own.

Oprah Winfrey- Her success and resilience is a vision board of what I intend to be and more. One of my late Uncles; Bolaji Rosiji, told me one time that my drive and passion reminds him of Oprah. It’s a compliment I hold dear to my heart. I wish to meet her someday.

Every woman before me in the development, advocacy and media sector is my role model. I have great respect for pace-setters who gave young women like me wings to fly, the ones who make room for us to grow and amplify our light.

If you were to start all over again what will you do differently?

I will align with people who have more expertise than me, and be more open about my struggles and challenges. Being in a society where you are constantly judged for your failure and mistakes could kill your morale, and make it hard for you to open up.

I am learning how to ask for help and lean on people who can add value to me, and my brand. Life is a lesson, I embrace everything with love, and open to change and best practices.

What is your message to women battling one challenge or the other?

Don’t give up! .There is light at the end of the dark tunnel. Don’t keep your problems to yourself, share with people who can proffer solutions and help. You are not your mistake and challenges, don’t let it consume you. There is always someone out there you can talk to, and ask for support.

Read Also: 8 Ways To Find Hope When You Are Hopeless

How do you rejuvenate when your energy is down?

I meditate, listen to frequency music, practice self-affirmations, focus on my power spot for energy boost, and stay mindful. I reduce my screen time when I am down and just be in the moment, appreciating the things in my present.

Watch:  How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome

How do you unwind?

Spending time with my kids, Netflix and chill, and sometimes hanging out with friends and family who love me for who I am.

Connect with Esther;

Facebook;  https://www.facebook.com/esther.ijewere/

Instagram; https://www.instagram.com/estherijewere/

Twitter; https://twitter.com/estherijewere

LinkedIn; https://www.linkedin.com/in/esther-ijewere-3a082b2b/

Youtube; https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLHFArqRf4HcjiekNGkopow

Email: Admin@womenofrubies.com

 

 

Mrs. Toyin Saraki has stressed on the need to efficiently train and successfully deploy nurses as a way of boosting healthcare in Nigeria. She is the Founder and President, Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA).

She made this call at the Lagos Health Service 13th Annual Nurses Scientific Conference. Themed ‘Nurses: A Voice to Lead, Invest in Nursing and Respect Rights to Secure Global Health’.

The conference, which was the highlight of the Lagos state edition of the 2022 Nurses Week, was organised to update nurses’ knowledge on current trends in nursing practice, present measures to overcome the current day challenges in healthcare delivery.

It also focused on contemporary issues worldwide affecting service delivery and proffer possible solutions and particularly, to bring the nursing profession to the fore, by strengthening the bond with other stakeholders in the health sectors within and outside Lagos, State.

Speaking on the importance of a motivated nursing workforce at the conference, Saraki, whose foundation donated to support the education and training objectives of the commission pointed out that nurses and midwives constitute majority of the global health workforce and the largest health care expenditure.

Read Also: Oyinkansola Alabi Address Mental Health Problems In Nigeria

“Efficient production, successful deployment, and ongoing retention based on carefully constructed policies regarding the career opportunities of nurses, midwives, and other providers in healthcare systems are key to ensuring universal health coverage. The World Health Organisation estimates that an additional nine million nurses and midwives are needed if the world is to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030.”

For First Lady of Lagos State, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, “nurses are resilient and dynamic, their efforts are duly recognized by Mr. Governor. Sadly, we need to go back to the drawing board to see why there is a high rate of brain drain in the sector. I commend the nursing practitioners and thank all nurses on behalf of the citizens of Lagos State”.

In a keynote address by Professor Florence Oluyemisi Adeyemo of the Faculty of Nursing Science, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho, she highlighted that a key component of professional nursing practice and provision of high-quality patient care is the involvement of nurses in practice-based research.

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Since 2015, WBFA in partnership with its global partners and donors has ran core maternal infant and young child feeding and nutrition education training in over 370 health facilities in Lagos state through its Mamacare360 Community Midwifery Antenatal and Postnatal Education Programme, Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC) up skilling for health workers, Medela Cares NICU-Specific Lactation Support, Nutritional International LO-ORS Zinc to Combat Diarrheal Disease in Sokoto and Kano states, as well as the Alive and Thrive Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) programme.

Other Special Guests at the conference were HRM Oba Kabiru Sotobi, The Ayangburen of Ikorodu, alongside the Honorable Commissioner For Health represented by Permanent Secretary Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, Mrs. Kemi Ogunyemi HSC Commissioner IV, and Lagos State Health Service Commission Nurses led by Director of Nursing Services, Mrs. Adebukola Cole.

Source: Guardian

The Lagos State Government has concluded plans to start a compulsory premarital counseling exercises for intending couples in its latest bid to prevent and eradicate domestic violence in marriage,

The plan was announced by the government during a one-day engagement program for the state’s marriage registrars, organized by the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence agency (DSVA) in conjunction with the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.

Read Also: My Domestic Violence Experience

Kikelomo Sanyaolu, the permanent secretary for the ministry announced this as a measure to prevent domestic violence across the state. Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, the executive secretary of the DSVA expressed her concerns about the gap in professional pre-marital counseling in the country and how it could have prevented most of the domestic violence cases because over 60% of victims saw the signs before getting married and still went ahead no thanks to inadequate counsel.

The event which had notable facilitators like Tinuke Odukoya, the Executive Director, Center for women’s health and information, Mr. Oladele Emmanuel, Founder, Institute of marriage administrators and counselors of Nigeria also had in attendance Mr. Praise Fowowe of the Institute of Family Engineering and development who had worked closely with the state in designing the 8 module pre-marital counseling program.

Read Also: Facebook Introduces Paid Leave For Victims Of Domestic Violence And Sexual Assault

Mr. Praise Fowowe shared a data driven approach to curbing domestic violence through effective pre-marital counseling sessions. He commended the Lagos State Government for this initiative and entertained questions from the registrars on the challenges they have been facing and how to resolve complex marital issues.

Mrs. Titilola Vivour- Adeniyi announced a 3 – day training for the registrars to introduce them to the curriculum and train them on how to facilitate effective pre-marital counseling.

Read Also: How to report a case of domestic violence

The registers took time to express their gratitude to the State Government for this laudable initiative which will promote a healthy family life within the state and a peaceful society

Neya Kalu is the Chairman and Publisher of The Sun Nigeria, founded and published in Nigeria. A reputable news outlet  in Nigeria and around the world. She is also the founder and CEO of Basecoat Nigeria, a nail salon chain changing the face of the Nail Industry in Nigeria.

Barrister Neya Uzor-Kalu has a degree in Law and an MSc. in Finance from the University of Buckingham, United Kingdom. She has 12 years experience crafting and implementing business initiatives across industries. The amazing businesswoman had previously worked in the banking sector, for five years, in the role of Human Resource Manager before her appointment as Chairman/Publisher of the Sun Nigeria.

Neya leads the Board on strategic matters, establishes high governance, and oversees the company’s business. She is also the Vice-Chairman of Sun Heavens Hotels and Resorts. With a strong interest in social issues and a desire to empower women, Neya works with the OUK Foundation to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs one through six. She shares her inspiring journey with Esther Ijewere in this interview.

 

Childhood Influence

I believe my childhood influenced what I do now, which is to lead several businesses, the most recent being my appointment as publisher and chairman of The Sun Nigeria. My upbringing was fairly isolated, and I had plenty of time to daydream about a lot of things including becoming an entrepreneur, just like my father.

Inspiration Behind Basecoat

I left my job in banking after the birth of my son in search of something that would allow me to spend more time with him, and I’ve always been very passionate about nails. I believe I was the only person in high school/college with acrylics and nail designs, so opening my own salon, Basecoat, was a no-brainer for me. Basecoat has been around for a few years now, and I’m pleased with how far we’ve come.

The Journey So Far

It’s been nothing short of incredible. I never intend to brag, but I believe Basecoat is providing a completely unique experience in the Nigerian nail  industry. Building and nurturing our vision at Basecoat has not been without challenges, but this has not stopped us from providing excellent  service to our customers. A standard that we intend to maintain  regardless of the current economic climate.

How I became chairman and publisher of The Sun Nigeria

Through perseverance and hard work. I’ve spent so many years in the background, observing, learning, and collaborating with the team. I  suppose the time had come for me to take over as chairman and publisher.

Lessons I Have Learned As The Publisher Of A Newspaper Outlet

It’s only been a few months since I took over as chairman and publisher,  but the lessons I’ve learned so far are that hard work pays off no matter where you are in life and that your team is just as important, if not more  important, than you.

My  Thoughts On Fake News And The Importance Of Fact Checking

We’ve seen the damage that fake news can cause in any society. As a  result, it’s critical that people get their information from reliable sources,  such as news outlets or reputable bloggers. Consumers should also be  cautious about where they turn for reliable news. With social media at  everyone’s fingertips, it’s easy for fake news to spread, and while we, the  publishers, ensure that due diligence is done and that any information  published on our platform(s) is credible, the general public also has a role  to play, which means that any news source they get information from  online must be credible.

My Work With OUK Foundation, And Passion For SDG Goal Six

While working with the OUK foundation, I like to think of myself as a secret santa because I am very passionate about the work we do – providing health benefits, education, access to clean water and food, job  opportunities, and so on. We are currently working on providing viable resources for children in some schools across the country.

One Thing I Wish To  Change In The Media Sector

The perception that all journalists want to smear everyone’s reputation. A  good journalist’s job is to report the news as accurately and transparently  as possible.

How Career Women Can  Create Work-Life Balance

I think it’s important to prioritize what is truly important to you and want to  do so it will be easy to navigate and balance out the work-life combination.

3 Women Who Inspire Me And Why

Bella Disu – Her age hasn’t stopped her from attaining her goals.

The Late Dora Akunyili – For her strength and tenacity (May her soul

continue to Rest in Peace).

Amina Mohammed – For the global impact she’s making through her

position as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair  of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group.

Importance Of  Women Supporting Women

Supporting women is something that I take very seriously and it looks to me like women being the sisters’ keeper. The word “empowerment” is frequently misused. I believe that encouraging women to be better in order to do better for themselves is more motivating because there are some brilliant women out there who just need a little push.

Being The Daughter Of A Notable Politician And Founder Of Sun Nigeria, And The Lessons He Taught Me

To be honest, I believe it is simply being yourself. One of the most useful lessons my father has taught me, and it has truly helped me navigate my career path because hearing a lot of “NOs” along the way, especially as a  female, can derail you and force you to be someone you are not, but you must learn to stay the course and be yourself. Because there is no other you, there is no more authentic you than you. And people just have to accept that.

Being A Woman Of Rubies

The fact that I am one of one makes me more valuable than rubies or any other gemstone on the planet.

To Young Women Who Are At A Crossroad And Trying To Find  Their Purpose

The will to dream becomes the purpose for the vision. It is really a choice  that we have to make. As I’ve always said, if you love something – nurture  it and fight 

Dr. Princess Olufemi-Kayode is a criminal justice psychologist and prominent child rights, activist. She is the Executive Director of Media Concern for Women and Children Initiative (MEDIACON), a non-profit organisation listed by the UNDP, which works with child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation.  

Dr. Princess is also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and rape, who has transformed to become a conqueror and fountain of succour for not only child victims but adult survivors as well. Started the first rape crisis centre in Nigeria in 2005 and reached hundreds of thousands of child victims, their families, and adult survivors of sexual violence. She shares her inspiring story and the inspiration behind her upcoming boot camp with Esther Ijewere.

Childhood Influence

OK about my childhood, looking back I will say yes but if I was asked this question maybe like 20 years ago, I would have said NO.  Looking back from where I am now in my life, I would say my experiences as a child prepared me for today. My parents were expecting a boy, and I arrived a girl.  I started in life proving that I am good enough to fill the boy space, and this put an extra push on me. That’s the same way I’ve committed myself to whatever it is I get into, I put myself into…

When I sit back and put on the 3D glasses, looking back, my life and the different experiences I had, yeah, I will say yes. My fighting spirit and ability to focus at one thing at a time were qualities I acquired. Looking through attending a private school, leaving at Primary to join a public school. So, you can see my experiences vary across class.  I experienced all this child I can understand someone from that background, I could really blend into various class sets. This is making made me smile… I was arrogantly stubborn and heady. Imagine me at 15 telling my father that he should focus on his other children, I will sort myself. You are self-made man; I will be a self-made woman. I’ve always been a fighter and that’s what I’m still doing. I stood up for the hurting, wounded, cheated even to my detriment as a child. I never liked injustice.

Inspiration behind  Media Concern Initiative

Starting Media Concern Initiative (MediaCon) has nothing to do with my being a survivor.  I was working with The Punch Newspaper and managing two pages focusing on woman. I avoided doing the regular focus of most women’s section – make-u, fashion, parenting for mothers (lol), cooking, you know home front issues and about how women should do better.  I did differently – having two full pages per week. I began to raise social issues and one of them was on Child Sexual Abuse – no one was talking about abuse. This invisible Tsunami was totally ignored as a nation. The response across the nation was huge. Adults from all six Geo=political zones in Nigeria responded. Over 1000 responses received through the newspapers Private Mail Bag and email. we had bold the private meal bags and middle course my first email was opened for me because My first email address was opened for me in The Punch. The column was ‘Princess’ was my name, so I had to use my second name Modupe Kayode. The response from adult survivors, I think more than 65% were men, women were about 35%. It was scary to see the pain, wounded and still suffering at what they had no control over what happened to you as a child, and the experience (s) still has gigantic impact and influence on adult survivors lives for worse. MediaCon was birthed as a name based of my publishing the issues around Child Sexual Abuse. I left the Punch, joined Journalist against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria, and worked in media advocacy and activism for two years. MediaCon continued its work on low key, educating teens in my living room for those years.

In 2002, I felt really bored at work. I had attained the height of my work and had no more challenges. I strive on challenges. I just needed something else excites me it was no longer exciting, and I didn’t just want to resign, without having something definite. I started feeling like it was time to move on. So, I sought God’s face on What Next? I waited for my church’s end of year event – Shiloh 2002, and I got my answer – Sexuality Minister, between God and I. The answer was the last thing I wanted in my life. Though this affirmed I couldn’t have come up with it myself… I never really imagined that I would have anything to do with the three-letter word – SEX. My personal experience with the word was not encouraging at all. It is like having to live through all my worst experiences again.

Finally, I succumbed and accepted my faith gladly. Then I decided if this the way to go, how best am I going to do it? Then plunged into research. What has been happening in Nigeria? What are they doing? Who was doing what around sexuality? What did they focus on and how? After visiting some organisations, apart from online searches, articles, abstract, reports, etc. I   concluded to settle the organisation’s focus on the Child Sexual Abuse

During the preparation stage, we were working at the back-end strategizing, when I received a call. Till this day, I have no idea who gave the parent of an eight-year-old, who had been sexually abused girl my mobile number. We had to step out much earlier than anticipated.

Very few people knew I was doing this. There was no official announcement yet. The parents of the little girl were both police officers.  This little girl could barely walk properly. She had an infection; part of the presentation was the migration of pin worms into vaginal area.  A doctor joined us in research. I found a Professor, back then he was a doctor – Sunday Idemudia of the University of Ibadan. He was invited to participate in the very first Media Roundtable organised by MediaCon to hold on this topic. That was with the beginning of media roundtables. She (the little girl) ignited my action button, boosted my passion, and heralded the fountain of inspiration. First it was God, you know and then, also the reality of seeing a little girl, who couldn’t walk properly, infected because of sexual abuse by very close family acquaintance – the son of the girl’s Godparents who at that time was a law undergraduate in a State University in 2003.

Together with an awesome take off crew, in addition was collective inspiration. I can’t even make claim to it. The appearance of that family and the timing ascertained we were the right path that and so that was it and there was no stopping us.

Being A Survivor Of Rape And Child Sexual Abuse, And My Healing Process

Hmmm… My healing is all together another phase of my life.

I never shared my sexual abuse experiences with anyone growing up. Though my parents did discover one – he was actually caught in the act- a paternal uncle. l lived with pain that , was that all my father and mother could do to protect me. Back then, my dad told my mum to “…take your daughter and go clean her.” Looking back now, I can see why he called me names most of my childhood. Interestingly enough, I have never seen the part of it, until answering these questions. My dad called me , Ashewo.” It never really bothered me. I never opened up about any experience before or after that.

I started research on Satan and Sex, this was one of the ways to deal with the issue. I enjoyed majority of the consequences of sexually abuse and this I got  to know from researched from mainly the United States. Yet I was born and live in Nigeria.

When my purpose was realigned to help save others, bring hope, healing, and justice… Working with other survivors, working with perpetrators, attending, and participating in strategic events and  self-development programmes. Connecting with therapists, and most of all my faith I God. I began to heal…It is still an ongoing process. You just get better, stronger, forgive and forget.

I fought a long battle. My work at MediaCon also helped.

I still believe that it takes God to heal from these experiences, but therapy is necessary.

Wearing Multiple Hats And Staying Grounded

Indeed, I do wear many hats … uuummm and it can be scary too, even for me…. because there are times when I want to answer what is it, I do, and it’s like bragging … you know, and this never ever my intention.

Sometimes you see me in a particular programme with a title, and then in another programme or event, and I have another title. That’s because I wear multiple hats.

My work in MediaCon is exposed me to many skills, aside the ones I had when starting the organization. My background is writing. I just loved to write, This I noticed in secondary school. Also, I wrote a lot of poems. I was known to do the best love prose… I was not business like, otherwise, all the free write ups should have earned me a fee. Maybe even make a lot … lol…

So here I am coming into this work, of course I had a little background in journalism and so here I am facing this new assignment, I don’t know anything apart from researches, studies, and my experiences as a child victim, and survivor. I didn’t really study journalism, until much later.  just you so you know, I can align with a lot of things. Being a learner and knowing how to ask questions from various angles was helpful and so we continue to work and began to fill the gaps and lapses that we had in terms of skill in terms of qualifications. So much more for me was skill actually and together with my staff, we began to build capacity. Apart from working with the Media to keep this subject in the fore.

My personal capacity grew – as I became a Certified Forensic Interviewer, Trauma Management Counsellor, with criminal justice psychology background. You know just different things, looking at the gaps that we needed to fill up, to enable us to do and give the best. I sought to be on top of the work – Got more training on Crisis Centers Structures, work, and the intervention with survivors; Victim Advocacy; STEPS Counselling Therapy & Treatment; Working with children and teenagers on inappropriate sexual behavior. I was just on a learning spree, with placed me and staff capacity was also being built…

I did a lot of training and have a lot of certifications. I am a Master Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, did Family Systems Engineering; moved to take on How To Think courses. Just empowering myself you know, a Premium Sexuality educator you know and a SGBV response expert, a Child protection and safeguarding policy and procedure strategist. I do consulting in that area I help schools and organizations develop their living and workable child protection and safeguarding policy and procedures. I do forensic interviewing and child interviewing, not interrogation trainings. I love my hats. Like you said I wear quite a lot and how do I manage.  When I was starting out, my husband was supportive. He encouraged me. There were times where, I got to work and will be informed I was traveling same day. When I want to refuse, he’ll say don’t worry. Imagine, I had a wardrobe at work. Yes. With my husband’s permission of course. He encouraged me and kept the Homefront going. Of course, my older children were part of my support system, and my faith in God. They were awesome. They allow my spread my wings.

Nearly 20 years plus in this work, I don’t play with self-care now. Back in the days, even when I do understand self-care, it was something that I made sure my staff and I do. When I noticed they are fatigue, we could shut down the office and just go to the beach and go to the cinema. I couldn’t bear them drained, particularly when they will refuse to take time off. That bunch… lol Watching them and seeing them drained. So much to do, being the foremost organization on prevention and providing crisis response back in the days – opening the first rape crisis center in the country and attending to not just Lagos, but the nation was a lot. Also, I am privileged to have a lot of good people around me um who took me in, some as my mentors and some mentees and lot of sisters from this work.

Lastly, if you know me, I know how to play.  I play a lot and I dance.  I watch movies and play my Candy Crush.  I love dancing and playing with my grandsons. I have three now.

I used to carry work home but that changed a long time back now. I arrive home from work, fling my shoes, start pulling off work clothing and right back on my laptop or attending to the 24hr helpline. That had to stop. Work time, family time. there must be boundaries.

Presently, it is like I’m detached, that’s because I’m no longer emotional about issues. I do empathize. I’m just not into sentiments. The Nigerian factor… I listen but I’m not going to jump straight out… you know when somebody has a case of domestic violence or something like this you see everybody come but that wasn’t me before. I’m calm now, objective about what exactly needs to be done about this issue. It’s not only jumping up and down

What I Enjoy Most About My Job

It will be bureaucracy.  Emergency was not a word that received attention as it should. This put a lot of burden, as child protection and safeguarding issues required on the go. You must submit a letter, which will go through many desks before action can be taken. Sometimes, more danger or even loss of life or family, sometimes, key witness has been taken out of state.

This is no longer the picture, but a lot still needs to be done.  The lack of understanding of the dynamics of child sexual abuse, our laws, multisectoral sector and implementation was a challenge. Because I have been researching on this topic a long time, I understood the law, the legal aspects and law enforcement. It was very frustrating that we had to be filling the gaps at different crossroad. Filling gaps with capacity building of staff both locally and internationally.  Oh my God, one of the greatest things MediaCon enjoyed was that we had awesome funding partners, they wanted to see us grow.

Another challenge was crisis management. It is great to note that there was no funding for crisis management. Crisis management took the magnitude of money. When a case is reported, the organisation bears the cost of logistics for the case – provide transportation for the family involved, food for the family involved, medical, etc. MediaCon relocated five families completely for their safety and most of all for the wellbeing of the children in Lagos, Ogun, and Abuja. The families got rented self-contained apartments, secured to avoid access to the children. I mean gate and basic furnishing to comfortable living standard. Mothers were set up in businesses and school fees are paid for the children. Organisations like ours must be the ones who bear the financial brunt to enable us assist child victims, their families, and survivors with very lean resources. The criminal justice system was not encouraging back in the days, we had a case of a girl who was four when she was defiled, at nearly 12 or 13 years old, we got conviction, after incessant adjournments…

Then investigation, there were lots of bottle necks, there’s so many things we did, such as actually undertake brief investigation, before writing a petition – this happened around 2003-2005. Back in the days, police didn’t work so well with state social workers, this affected children, who needed protection, MediaCon was able to bridge this gap.  Pornography was easily accessible to children, sold on the streets for as cheap as a hundred Naira, child sexual abuse reports were increasing daily. MediaCon and our Children Advisory Board members together with the Ministry of Women Affairs and State Children Parliament acquired over 1000 children appended their signatures to a Save Our Soul (SOS) document delivered to the Stae House of Assembly Speaker and top representatives in 2007.

I brought cases home, working with the Ministries, girls were taken into my home. My family was targeted, to the point we had to relocate within Lagos leaving our property behind. Our lives, that of my staff were in danger many times over. Who would keep us safe? International community supported our relocation. Our office was burgled, only the crisis management laptop was stolen. The attacks were clearly case related… Keeping us safe became a challenging.

Family and so ictal intrusions based on myths, and the devil was a were also a challenge. Knowing the subject of our work – children were mostly abused. More than once, men of God came to my office to plead for an adult sexual molester – telling me how this person has changed their ways and the devil was responsible. Of course, they were arrested right in my office by plain cloth Police Officers – Area G Commander worked so well with us in that regard. The understanding of the society was a huge challenge – lots of interference in the cases. We kept putting up educational, sensitization and Enlightment programmes and materials across 5 languages – Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, English and Pidgin English.

My Upcoming Boot Camp On How To Start Sex Education With Children

About, the boot camp programme- It is about how to start and keep the sex with your children going. This course was first introduced in 2016, on Teachable.com platform and over 250 parents trained. I was just testing the market and it was free. Over the years, more parents and care givers have taken the course and paid for. However, for the first time in this training programme, other experts are joining us.

 We shall be looking at emotional intelligence for the sexuality education talks and looking at how to keep your mental health in check – you know the culture of the generation we are in is quite different from that of parents and adults. We are delving also, on how to think – critical thinking and on the spot thinking when it comes to issues of your children and of course of sexuality and different things that are around us.

In addition, family life as we know it, is not the same. You know deep down that as parents you are not really prepared to even face or acknowledge them. Family cultures, values and beliefs need to be revisited; we have an expert to help us in this terrain.

We shall also looking at inappropriate sexual behavior. One thing of parents shies away from – not wanting to accept your child is misbehaving and for some unconscious labeling and dumping the responsibility as that of the devil, the woman in the village, village people, the mother or siter in law who doesn’t like you, etc.… So, cover them.

 I know that most parents want what is good, even best for their children and must be able to make sure there is balance. Unconsciously too sometimes, parents are the ones, even creating the damage. When you do not know when to draw the line.  The Bootcamp will take incognizance the recent happenings and putting a searchlight at real of things happening around us as regards the sexuality culture of today, and how as parents you can position yourself to do good, better, and even great.

I remember back in the early days of media con talking about 2004 and 2005, there came the era of recording gang rape, recording on mobile phone and sharing – some went viral… It was like teens started creating their own porn. They rape, gang-rape, sexually assault a girl, record the girl and themselves, but without the faces of the boys – show everything that occurred and share it, sheer wickedness. So, we have seen quite a lot and It was horrible. These are our sons living double lives. So many girls were tortured and humiliated. Some will never know how far the video recordings reached.

MediaCon was able to trace some of these girls, got the girls and arrest were made, but they were too much…

 As a person who is very involved in the sector, I’m talking about the child sexual abuse prevention and crisis provision sector, we saw as children to children begin to escalate. Most people assume that sexual abuse can only be committed by an adult. That is what we are used to in the news, but we are finding quite a lot of inappropriate sexual behavior and activities between children. Also, we began to see that children were being convicted on rape cases as adults this happened in United States of America. Quite a lot because we’re monitoring global happenings. Child to Child has been around for a while and has been escalating since then as far back as 2001, escalated about 2012. An example of sexually assaulting rape and video taking was the famous case of the Steubenville High School back in 2012.

Attending this Bootcamp is a parent’s game up…  yes, you’ve just got to game up… no more excuses… The church is not responsible to teach your child, the Islamic educators are not, even to an extent, it’s not the schools responsibility.

Yes, there are some arguments about what the content of school-based sexuality education must consist off… I am in support – what is it appropriate and what is not…

You must understand how you to develop your family safety plan and a lot more that you will get introduced to other things that will be very helpful for your children. So, it’s a course you must not miss, and like I said many experts are going to be a part of it. It takes place from May 1st – 8th

What I Enjoy Most About My Job

 A chance to see there’s a woman and child safe. There’s a home to keep safe.  Living… really for me is saving life – one life at a time.  I love my work. I must say to you, I live by giving hope. I live by providing healing. You know so that’s just what yeah in I breathe every day of my life. I just want to give hope to people and bring healing. I live my work because it gets me to play that role, I love children … This comes naturally to me… Everywhere I go, children are drawn to me everywhere I go in the world … At the airport, you see children drawn to me… It’s interesting that some parents try to keep them back. I’ll plead them that it is okay, leave them. I’m not surprise that I end up working for them and with them. I love it because my experiences tend to give deeper insight into some things. Growing in the work also has given me working experience, which has been quite helpful.

 I love my work I could just wake me up from my sleep anytime, and I’ll jump into effortlessly. I found what I could do for free and get paid for. It is like playing just myself enjoying myself enjoying my time you know giving into a life really meaning.  it’s just so beautiful to be able to do that and when I work with a team, I mean that’s family for me. I have that family culture everybody comes in with one so we can work together. I see you I can talk to you and I’m just grateful for my life, I am grateful to have work and still working with awesome individuals.  Yeah, we have differences, but I love what I do and I’m in it.  if I’m doing anything I mean to it I mean I give it my whole …my ALL

Government And Support For Stakeholders In The Gender-Based Violence Sector

As someone who works in the SGBV sector, the government plays the major role to keep her citizens safe. Provide succour to the wounded, afflicted, and abused, etc.  what can I say…hmmm from when we started back, it’s a bit better NOW… it is better though some of the battles are still the same.  but look at the long journey back and over 20 years, we need to come up as a country with a very comprehensive crisis provision. Crisis provision includes prevention.

We need to set aside and add to country and state budgets – support for stakeholders at the different levels.

Empowering of Criminal justice sector officials and maintain continuous training and retraining by updating and reviewing and working together to discover what would work for us as much as we look at ours and others best practices.

We are far better than where we are coming from… Yet, the hurdles on the pathway to giving optimal care and services still exist. It is no joke really. Crisis response is about life and death sometimes. With a population of over 200 million, we have less than 20 functional shelters. Medicals, Therapy, Relocation, if need be. It is private organisation bearing the cost – that should be government provision. And people should stop believing that NGOs is all about collecting foreign funds. There are people and organisations working tirelessly, even some government MDAs (Ministry, Departments and Agencies). We make laws, and implementation and education of the society to the laws is still a struggle.  The VAPP Act is still crawling – more than 20 states have enacted at State level. Certain laws need to be reviewed and amended.

Shelters are overburdened and there is no financial support, we’ve got to come to accept the reality – you want women to leave abusive homes for where? Yes, shelters are temporary! A woman has finally taken the bold step to walk out of her situation, is a person ready to walk on water. They need more than just shelter, their psychological and mental state requires to access therapy. Most do not get that at all

As a country, and as a government, what are we doing to help to make sure that it’s not just going to a shelter but that you’re going through all the comprehensive care needed before reintegrating into society.

I remember in the early days with we worked with The Real Woman Foundation, they started working with sex workers. They had a home (Still have) supporting rehabilitation and reintegration for those who wanted out. We happen to have a teenage call retrieved from sex work. They offered a comprehensive program – taking each person through group and individual therapy, spiritual program, medical and physical health, and skill acquisition or back to school program. They built capacity before they are reintegrated into society. What I am saying, is for the government to go back to the drawing board and put a budget heading to support SGBV related programmes.

Resources need to spread across board, our legislators, presidency, vice, house of rep’s members, state house of assemblies, councilors- we need to reduce the pay. We need to go too far on where to find resources. How important sis the lives of the women and children of this nation? That is the question they need to answer truthfully.  Enough of collection of heavy salaries and benefits – our people are dying. Nigeria has got to commit money into supporting and providing support for civil society. The few individual homes need to be supported. There needs to be a sit down on the way forward

We are too dependent on international aids. We need to be less dependent on international funding. Where are our philanthropists. Let them arise to put their money where their mouth is. This is not saying Nigerians are not supporting, but it’s like trickle of water in a vast ocean of chaos.

Not all NGOs are syphoning funds, there are organisations tirelessly working hard. It’s time to wake up and put our money where our mouth is.

Governments need to evaluate what they are doing, bring in the academia to work with the civil society and government MDAs to do researches. Let’s create programme that are based on evidence.

 Three women who inspire me  and why

Number one on my list is Lisa Nicholas. The breakthrough specialist. Who lost everything … really had nothing except $12 to her name, a toddler son, homeless and hit Ground Zero. She found her voice, She found her feet, is a blessing globally, changing lives and finally found love too… It’s like a fairy tale too.  I see me scaling… as my life experiences have taken me on similar path. I see the glory… Bearer of Hope and Healing…

Number two, Oprah Winfrey. Born into poverty, experienced multiple child sexual abuse molestations. She rose above al odds. Got into media and rose to become a top talk show hostess, left to start of her own company. She doesn’t only know the onions of talk show, she explored acting and has starred in multiple movies. She runs her own charity that she funds. She is a global influencer. She does a lot to move women forward. She is an inspiration.

Lastly, Diana Ross… This lady still gets me having goose pimples on my skin, when I think of the iconic lady. I love her tenacity, ability to always look sleek. and remaining a legend. Also, how she kept her family private in her kind of world.

What We Can Do Better As A Society To Educate Parents On The Importance Of Having Sex Talks With Their Children From An Early Age

Religious organizations have got to be take a front burner, as they carry a have influence. If a call to home-based sexuality education hits pulpits and they are sharing the importance of sexuality education – it will pay off.

I can never forget way back one time in 2005 or 2006 thereabouts, I was invited to speak at the girls’ camp of one of the Pentecostal churches. In that meeting, I had access to about 2000 girls from ages 5 – 17. I just came to teach them basic child sexual abuse prevention. This meeting became a major milestone in my journey in this work because I was contemplating stopping about that time. What I experienced was too much pain. Asking the Holy Spirit about what He had to share … before the meeting and on my way… was, “My Heart Bleeds.” Nearly 80% of those in attendance had experienced a form of child sexual molestation. On that day, there was wailing! As I am responding to you, I can still vividly see the scenario all over again. I knew I could not STOP working…

There is serious need for the religious leaders to take the topic of sexuality education and other related matters serious. Parents need to join the conversation to understand that they need to take it up as part of their teachings, not just the holy books.  Not just spiritual.

Already, Nigeria has sexuality education incorporated into the secondary school system. Interestingly, Sexuality Education came under comprehensive life skill training. ARFH in Ibadan and Action Health Incorporated worked relentlessly for it to be introduced to schools in Lagos State.

As a nation, we need to create more programmes for parents to know what’s really going on in the world today. Keeping them abreast of related happenings. They need to access more education through trainings and participation. There’s no shame in acknowledging I don’t know about a thing if I don’t. All I should be thinking about is who has it, and that I can learn from.

What is of utmost value is the children and what’s best for them.

I recall my sister and I sharing our experience of when as little girls we used to make our hair – the traditional ‘Didi’ a service provided by elderly women in the Neighborhood. How we use to suffer inhaling, after holding our breath and can’t any longer… terrible odour. Why? In making the hair, they sit on wooden stools, and put one’s head bent low between their open thighs. The offensive odour coming from between their legs was killing. Yeta s children, you don’t dare to say a word. We always cried to have a haircut. My mum overhead us sharing and asked us why didn’t you tell me? How would one frame the words back in the days… You wan die.

Parenting has become intentional above emotional and sentiments. What kind of child are you raising? Parents can also seek, find, and knock and it shall be open to them, as they seek, they find, as they knock, the door is open to them. In other words, you must make the effort – you don’t want to repeat patterns by your parents… Take the great, good and learn from the bad, worse, and impractical.

One Thing I Wish To Change In The GBV Sector, Especially In Nigeria

If there was anything I could do to be changed in the GBV sector, what would that be? This is huge. As a nation, so many things oh!  I’ll just pick one thing. I’m thinking o… this question is killing me … my mind is just blank.

OK one thing … I can do … I’ll say mass awareness and education. This is not sensitization of a community type, but entire nation. Not just in the hand of one agency – but all – Government MDAs, Private Sector, Professional bodies, Non-Profit, Religious Organisations and entities, traditional, Influencers, etc. The police should have a public enlightenment department that is enlightening the public and not just about armed robbery, but every crime including sexual abuse prevention. Educating on what to do, as it involves them and criminal justice sector…

I know some may argue that this has already been done. Yes, I concur, but what are the results… With our massive population. We need to have a With our massive population. We need to have a strategic vision on what we want to achieve as a country as regards SGBV. This is to guide all parties. Knowing how to position and work towards a COLLECTIVE GOAL.

Corporate organisations can sponsor or collaborative. We see how they support BBN, Now, my recommendation is for them to join in the mass education.  We need to get their attention. If it must be musical jamboree, then we find how to link to the message. They can also be a part of supporting sponsoring billboards and enlightenment education in the different languages – like Hausa, Kanuri, Efik, Yoruba, Igbo, Edo, Fulani, Pidgin English, Ijaw, Ibibio, etc. This sis to mention a few. We have over 500 native languages in Nigeria.

It is so critical that we save many lives through education. Education will help us reduce number of abuses, for prevention is better than cure.  Advertising and PR agencies can contribute to developing copies that assist with behavioural changes. This is not a quick fix. It continues intermittently.  We need to come down our high horses and really focus on this for the benefit of our people and for the good of this nation.

It’s so, so important – that this is not a one-off show. It does not need a launching or opening declaration event, etc.  Nigeria needs a vision for SGBV as a nation, so everybody can tap into that vision. Everybody has that vision and work to achieving the set goal. The criminal justice sector, education, local government, influencers, private sector, and other sectors work with the vision.

My question to the government, Oh my God what’s the thing you plan for in Nigeria prevention crisis provision rehabilitation. not just for survivals but also for even the perpetrators it’s so important thank you so much for that question.

Tehila 5

The Tehila 5.0 Initiative

Yes, we are having Tehila 5.0. Four organisations coming together to put this together. Wevvo, Rubies Ink Initiative, Fatimah Balaraba Foundation, Media Concern Initiative (MediaCon), and Safe Space Initiative. The event holds on May 7th

The formation of this union is very interesting. Ideas do not belong to any, they float in the atmosphere, It is the implementers that now own the idea… We were all having ideas, finding that our ideas align in purpose and goal.  Thinking alike. I want to give single mums a day out. Wevvo and Rubies Ink work with them. Safe Space has been holding Tehila foe some years now, and this is the fifth series…

I believe so I began this year with this crazy thing about giving you know doing something special for single moms it’s just my birthday but of course my children recommended mommy just postpone it for now. I was just sharing with the leadership of Safe Space Initiative, Osasu and informed, Ill reach out to Wevvo and Rubies Ink Initiative. It aligned with what Tehila 5.0 is sent out to do. The planning was already in the works. Wevvo and Rubies Ink, Fatimah Balaraba Foundation saw they fitted in and how this can start on the template of Tehila.

Brining in the dynamics of our strengths and joint goal to support women, single mums, Domestic Violence survivors, divorced, widows, etc.  In this program, together we want to make life beautiful for other women. you know particularly those who are affected in anyway and need a break, group therapy, etc. The event offers group therapy, fun, games, dance, lots more.

This edition of Tehila 5.0 is including the children.  The event allows a mother attend with maximum of 2 children. Anyone with more than 2 should watch virtually. Registration is compulsory.

Being  a Woman of Rubies

 What makes me a woman of Ruby …wow I would say my life journey…my wounds… my scars and what I’ve been able to do with them.

 I know it’s so interesting that there are fresh wounds in the journey of life, and then accepting them as part of the journey, healing, bearing those scars and learning from them.

Wearing them like ornaments, then using them for something purposeful like impacting other lives, using it to make sure somebody else doesn’t go through that, and doing that for over 20 years. I have been involved in over 20,000 cases of abuse. I count it a rare privilege. I am still alive to do more.

I wear my stuff – ornaments well. I acknowledge that it doesn’t make me emotionless. I can still cry. If I fall, I dust myself and start that all over. There is a destination, and after that my destination modest nation I’m a woman of Ruby

What I Would Say To A Woman Who Is Scared Of Walking Out Of An Abusive Marriage

what would I say to woman feared working out of course there’s nothing to say to a woman who is enjoying her marriage.

 if you’re going through any form of abuse that demeans you emotionally, financially, spiritually, and sexually – it makes you feel like you’re less of you. Start asking yourself some serious questions.  Knowing your life is in danger and pretending not to see what’s lies ahead of you?

You can only the LIVING can settle and that makes me just want to share a bit in my life’s journey.   I’ve not shared this publicly, so here’s a scoop for Woman of Ruby.  I think I’ve done so in some meetings, but they’re in closed meetings. Now, I’m in that place where I can talk about it.

I stepped out of my marriage for 3years. There was no planning, but it ended up in a separation, and for three years I was by myself. I had to step aside. I stepped out.  I fled for my life. I fled for my life because my life was endangered, and it would have been dumbed to stay behind and become a corpse.

I didn’t want to put my children through that, so for whatever he was going through I needed to leave, and I did. Interestingly, we are back after three years apart. What would have happened if I was dead?

He could also have killed himself or be in jail. There’s so much wisdom in LIFE FIRST! Yes, what I just shared is shocking and this is just rounding it up in brief …  it’s a long story, but I am alive!

 I was scared, I did not know what was going to happen when I left. I was used to being married and it was 23 years in the marriage journey.  I had put in so much and worked every day.

I cried nearly every day for the first 3 months… but I’m here today.  It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I’m not saying that the journey ahead of you is going to be smooth, so don’t think because you need to step out it is going to be smooth sailing. There’s no readymade smooth journey ahead.  No! It’s like stepping on water, but you’ve got to take that step of faith for your life and for your children sake. Leave and be alive! Be bold, have faith- no life is tied to the other.

“I’d rather have a cupboard full of herbs, than a closet full of heels”, says a popular Herb specialist. Herbs have many practical uses and because of this, they are highly favored by many. Herbs are usually small plants that are used for culinary and medicinal purposes although there are some herbs in use that come from trees and shrubs. The term herb or herbaceous plant refers only to the short-lived, non-woody plants even if they may bear seeds. Herbs are valued principally because of their aroma, flavor and medicinal property.

Herbs have been used by different cultures around the world for thousands of years. The pandemic also caused many to turn to herbs for healing. Ultimately, herbs and spices are an important part of our diet and our health.

Alatise Zainab Oluwatosin is a herbal practitioner, and healer. She is the founder and lead formulator of Ashabioge Herbal, a leading brand in the health and wellness industry in Nigeria.

The Ijebu Ode native obtained her national diploma from the prestigious Federal School of Statistics Ibadan campus.  After a personal health crisis in 2019, which led her to going back to her love of African herbs and roots, Zainab has been  committed to helping more people enjoy their life to the fullest using her tested and trusted 100% pure African herbs.

With her long family history of time tested and proven herbal formulations, which has been handed down for generations. Zainab is also currently enrolled in a world class institute for herbal formulations, in order to ensure that her brand meets with international best practices.

Ashabioge Herbal as a fast growing brand in the health and Sexual wellness industry has catered to people from all over the world, including but not limited to Dubai, the United Kingdom, Botswana, Canada, Chicago, Australia, Ghana, South Africa, and across the length and breadth of Nigeria with tangible results and accolades. The United Nations advocate for SDGs 3 – Good health and wellbeing, and 17- Partnership for the goals, shares her inspiring journey with Esther Ijewere in this exclusive interview.

Childhood Influence

Yes, I can say that my childhood prepared me for what I’m doing now.  I grew up with a large family, and I remember that a time, when I was about 6 or 7 years old, I fell sick for a long time, alongside 2 of my siblings.  We tried different options until my grandmother intervened and prepared something for us that was made from 100% herbs.

Since then, I have recommended that herb to different people, and it has worked for them everytime. That single incident made my family always resort to herbs which has been a huge blessing to us.

Ashabioge Herbal

I was inspired to start Ashabioge Herbal from the need to help others who were going through health challenges and were not seeing the results that they wanted. My desire is to help as many people as possible, improve their health, prevent needless health challenges and live a full and happy life with their loved ones.

Privilege of the herbal formulation passed down to me

Oh yes, I feel very humbled to have access to such wealth of health information that is helping people from all walks of life to live their life to the fullest in good health using 100% herbs from the African soil.

My products

Since 2018 when I officially started making herbal formulations, we have developed  10 products.  All our products are created  for one specific health challenge or the other. Few examples of our best seller formulations are; 1:Sabi men (for quick ejaculation, weak Erection, low Libido etc )2: Jedi ( for detoxification of excess sugar and toxins .)3: Herbal flusher (serves as general antibiotics for both male and female.) 4: hypertension tea ( The tea is formulated to cater for high blood pressure )

These products have sold in over 6 countries with hundreds of tangible results and testimonials from our esteemed customers.  This has made our customers free brand ambassadors who always recommend our products to their family and friends . Our vision at Ashabioge Herbal is to be a world class brand.

Institute of herbal formulations

In 2019, I actively started looking out for international training to help us realise our vision and the institute of Herbal Academy was recommended to me by a friend.  The aim of the institute I  is to help herbal formulators do better in formulation I am so happy that I went for the opportunity because our work has improved in the following areas; 1: Preservation, 2: Formulation  3: packaging

Challenges of my work

Logistics ( sending herbs to some countries from Nigeria is so difficult sometimes I have to first send to a particular country then move it from there to final destination this means I will get someone in the first country to collect for then send to final destination this is not free the person will charge me.Getting fresh herbs is so difficult too sometimes we have to use dried ones instead

Other projects and activities

Currently working on having some of my herbs in a capsule, tea bag and  hopefully our Jedi will be in CAN like a drink soon. Many people want to take herbs but they hate the bitter taste of some herbs so having such herbs in a capsule for people like that will be okay. Also many wants to drink there Jedi on the go that is why I will working JEDI soon

What I enjoy most about my job

Creating new recipe (I love it when I create new recipe for any health issues)

The women who Inspire me and why

My mum and my big sister Damilola Ewa. My mum has been so supportive even though at first she said must you do what your father does, why not get work with your certificate Tosin. People will fear you, this kind of business is not for a young woman like you and all sort but when she noticed I have not been going to hospital like I used to nor did I fall sick regularly like before she has been the one referring customers she taught me herbs her grandma thought her and her prayers has been working in my life and business

My sis Damilola, we met on Facebook she is a blessing despite being in the same business with me she kept showing me I have never seen a more beautiful soul than her and she is doing wonderfully well in the herbal industry too

To young women who want to go into the herbal business

They should get their formulation right and not just sell because everyone is selling herbs there is trend I noticed recently people sell because they see others selling which is very very wrong

Whatever business model you want to venture into, the first thing is to learn and research.

Changing the misconception and narrative about herbs

I use my platform to educate my audience on importance and uses of herbs I do advice them to also seek professional guidance not just use DIY (do it yourself) they see on the internet

What I wish to change In the Herbal sector

Make herbs accepted globally many people still believe herbs are not safe which is not true herbs is safe

Being a Woman of Rubies

I always look out for the girl child and educate the ones around on sex education I choose this topic because of what I have seen while growing up a lot of girls that we grew up together many young girls then under 17 got pregnant many of them did not even understand what sex is and the implications of having sex at a very tender age  .

Rubies Ink Initiative for Women and Children and Women of Rubies, put smiles on the faces of 100 seniors and vulnerable in Alimosho LGA and Makoko community with it’s Christmas Food Drive initiative. The project which was funded through the support of the public was a huge success.

The team went into the two communities to give food packages to the elderly in a bid to make them happy and feel loved.

Rubies Ink has been into advocacy, empowerment, and development projects since 2008, and runs multiple projects, empowerment workshops, trainings, campaigns, media advocacy, and women’s outreach programs centered around domestic violence, gender equality and women’s health.

They also organize the annual Walk against Rape campaign , celebrated over 1000 exceptional women through their womenofrubies.com platform, and raise funds online  for women and children in urgent need of medical and other support.

Speaking about the Christmas food drive for the aged, the founder of Rubies Ink, Esther Ijewere said;

“Old age is a blessing, we need to continuously make our seniors feel loved and appreciated. The pandemic has taught us to live in the moment and be intentionally kind, that’s one of the reasons we supported our seniors this festive season, In our bid to spread love and light. We appreciate our donors for their unwavering and continuous support over the years.”

The Project Coordinator, Michelle Inegbese said;

“This is what we love to do, supporting those in need, and putting smiles on faces. Our seniors deserve that and much more. We hope to do this more often”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see more of Rubies Ink work on rubiesink.org and womenofrubies.com, and follow their social media handles; Facebook- Rubies Ink Initiative for Women and Children, Women of Rubies, Walkagainstrape. Instagram; @rubiesink, @womenofrubiesng, @walkagainstrape.Twitter; @rubiesinkng @womenofrubies and @walkagainstrape.

The federal government as part of its conditional cash transfer programme (CCT) has started the payment of N1.6 billion to 167,000 poor and vulnerable women in Jigawa.

The CCT programme requires that beneficiaries meet certain criteria like enrolling their children in public schools and getting regular check-ups at the hospital.

Mustafa Yakubu, the Training and Communication Officer, State Cash Transfer Unit (SCTU), made this known to journalists on Saturday in Kiyawa, Jigawa State.

Speaking after monitoring the exercise at Andaza and Shuwarin villages of Kiyawa LGA, he said the funds were disbursed to beneficiaries via Fund and Electronic Transfer Solution (FETS Wallet) engaged by the National Cash Transfer Office.

He explained that the payment was for the months of May and June and that each beneficiary got N10,000.

“In Jigawa, we have not less than 167,000 beneficiaries in the 27 local government areas. For all components of the programme, we are paying not less than N1.6 billion every two months,” Mr Yakubu said.

He said there was a need for the process to be more ICT-savvy, adding, “The application of ICT will remove the need for beneficiaries to gather in one place to collect the money.

“This will help in curtailing insecurity issues surrounding the process and help the financial education of the beneficiaries.

“Higher deployment of ICT will also help other business activities like the POS service and the observance of social distancing protocol of COVID-19,” he said.

According to him, SCTU also conducts coaching and mentoring for the beneficiaries on how best to utilise the money, particularly in investments.

“Some beneficiaries are already into one petty business or the other. So we train and advise them on how best to use the money in their businesses and trades.

“Some of them formed cap-making groups, some formed cooperative groups, while others engage in small scale businesses,” Mr Yakubu added.

(NAN)

Stephanie Obi is popularly referred to as the Queen of Online Courses, as she helps women entrepreneurs create, launch and sell online courses. She has an online business school, Steph B-School, that teaches women entrepreneurs how to get more customers online.


Growing up, all the women entrepreneurs she saw owned mom and pop shops. They never grew to be CEOs of big companies and so Stephanie didn’t even know that women could be CEOs. It was not on the cards for her and she thought the best she could be was to rise up the career ladder in a good job, get married, have children and be satisfied.

Her perception started to change when she started to see other women who were mothers and wives and had founded successful businesses. She started to see that it was possible for her. What made their stories so profound was that they were just like her. African Women.

Representation matters. If young girls see other women who look and sound like them founding companies, it helps to build a pipeline of women founders.

This for Stephanie, is why she believes that the biggest hindrance to women founding companies is the lack of representation. If women see women who are just like them founding companies, they will be inspired to start.

To empower women to become founders, Stephanie’s company has helped thousands of women to start an online course business using their different training programs.

In the course of the trainings, she also noticed that a lot of women were not tech inclined and this stopped them from really growing. In order to resolve this challenge, they built an easy to use online business platform, TrainQuarters which makes it easy for women to create and sell all their training products online.

Stephanie believes that female entrepreneurship will go a long way to alleviate the effect of poverty in African households. With more disposable income in the household, children can be exposed to more opportunities.

Stephanie is particular about women empowerment because she believes that when women are empowered, communities become empowered.

She also believes that there are problems that women are in a better position to solve just because of their feminine nature. If women become founders, they will be able to contribute their innovative ideas to solving problems that society has.

Stephanie mentioned practical ways that women can be empowered and in her own words, “One powerful way to empower more women to become women founders is just by showcasing the stories of diverse women entrepreneurs from different backgrounds. Women should be exposed to more female founders as they grow up, and as much as possible, entrepreneurship should be a part of the curriculum in schools.”

“Access to funding will help a lot of women to become founders however a lot of women struggle to access the available funds because they cannot pitch themselves. There should be training programs focused on teaching women how to pitch and to access funds. It will also help if women can become investors because investors tend to invest in people who look like them.”

Through her website, www.stephanieobi.com, she has reached over 82,000 people in over 10 countries.

She has also been recognised as one of the 100 most inspiring women in Nigeria, and won First Prize at the Wimbiz Impact Investment Competition.

To fill up key tech roles with the right people, it takes a company an average of 3 months. This is because the process is hectic, delicate, and time-consuming, and if not properly done, can lead to a poor hire, waste of time, and productivity.

The war for hiring new talents is real, companies struggle with where to find quality tech talent and the challenge of long time-to-hire, this is where CodeLn comes in.

CodeLn is a software company that helps companies seamlessly find, test, and hire skilled African tech talent i.e Software Engineers, UI/UX Designers, Data Scientists, etc.
They have a technology that automates the entire tech recruitment process; recruiters can post jobs, get matched with candidates on the talent marketplace, manage applications using an integrated applicant tracking system and also test the coding skills of applicants using an in-built assessment platform.

With CodeLn, your ideal dev is just a click away!

In 2016, Elohor Thomas, the brain behind CodeLn, facilitated a tech training program organized by the government and a top tech company. The purpose of this program was to train graduates on software development during a 3-month intensive boot camp and match all of them with employment afterward.
At the end of the boot camp, they had over 70% success, and candidates moved from tech novice to full-stack engineers in the shortest time. Their drive was mostly their desire to learn and the promise of a job from the government.  Sadly, only less than 3% of them were connected to jobs and it was mostly those who had connections in the government (“man-know-man” as it is commonly known). The candidates came back to Elohor, complaining bitterly that the government did not deliver on their promise to provide them jobs. She felt bad because there was nothing she could do to help them at the time.

Elohor Thomas started CodeLn because as an engineer, she knew that learning to code can be quite a journey and she believes that anyone that succeeds should be rewarded with their dream job.

CodeLn is addressing a niche market and their expertise to tackle the needs of this market sets them apart from other competitors. For them, it is really about their commitment to impact and solve the problem of both their users – programmers and recruiters. This has made them attractive to even notable clients and partners abroad which include Wikipedia, Microsoft, IBM, Digital Ocean, Cloudinary, to mention a few.

CodeLn is a 50% female-founded team of 4 engineers from 3 African Countries. Elohor prides in diversity ad their greatest asset as the team comprises of a Nigerian, two Kenyans and one from Ivory Coast.

They have physical offices in Ghana and Nigeria and a database of over 9000 African tech talent.

Elohor’s entrepreneurial drive runs deep in her gene. She always had the zeal to do her own thing, she ran a business of hers for over 2 years in the university. After graduation, she, went into employment to learn how to run a business from others because she believes anyone that wants to lead must first learn to serve. She passed through a corporate firm, institutions, and startups. After that, she decided it was time to start her own. Her co-founders and her kicked off CodeLn sometime in 2017.

“It is our vision to become the global go-to marketplace for finding skilled African Programmers. I always say that there is only one global language and that is “programming language”. I believe that software engineers are not limited by borders and our engineers in African can compete with their counterparts anywhere in the world -engineers without borders.” she said.

Describing her greatest fulfilment as a techpreneur, Elohor says it is “direct impact”, running her own business gives her access to directly influence decisions and take risks that would lead to measurable impact. Something she did not get during her time as an employee. In her words, “because I understand the mission of my company and I am passionate about what I am doing, I am excited to stay up late till 3 a.m working on strategies to ensure that I get the right impact and result that the business needs.”

This is why she can boldly say to anyone who has an idea in them but are afraid to begin small. If you are that person, Elohor says ““start already”. As they say, “not taking a risk is a risk on its own”. So take the risk of starting, learn, iterate and if it is not working, do not be afraid to pivot. Remember, a business only becomes what you want it to become with the right execution.’

Let these words be your drive as you launch into the new week.

Take that risk.
Bet on yourself.
Start already!